Casey on the Loose

Frank Deford, Author Viking Books $15.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-670-82780-0
Deford ( Everybody's All-American ) uses Ernest Thayer's classic poem ``Casey at the Bat'' to create a whimsical tale blending fact, fiction and fantasy. Timothy Casey is a brilliant young ``ballist'' (as they were called back in 1888) whose extraordinary hitting has galvanized the town of Mudville. Living near Boston, Casey falls in love with beautiful Florence Cleary, a recent Irish immigrant working as a maid. ``Mighty Casey'' also meets Chester Drinkwater, an unscrupulous businessman who lies to the young ballplayer and for a price convinces him to leave the Mudville Nine. After splitting with Flossie over Drinkwater, Casey encounters Richard Fox, the editor of the National Police Gazette , who's in Boston to convince the great John L. Sullivan to defend his boxing crown. Casey's altercation with the drunk and overweight champion is the next event in this cleverly extended what-if, tracing fictitious events that lead up to the actual at-bat immortalized by the Thayer poem. Deford writes lovingly of a time long past and his set-up of the famous at-bat is nicely conceived. A shorter version this book appeared originally in Sports Illustrated , and the novel does read like a magazine piece stretched (beyond its modest limits) between the covers of a book. Photos not seen by PW. 25,000 first printing; $25,000 ad/ promo. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
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